Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his budget recommendations Monday, which included cutting back on weapons production spending.

In his remarks, Gates said that, as part of his $534 billion budget proposal, the US should halt production on the F-22 fighter jet. It costs $140 million apiece for each F-22, and Gates would like to see the number produced halted at 187.

He also recommended that the US cut back on spending for tanks, fighter planes, ships, missiles and other weapons, which had accounted for a third of the money spent by the US last year.

Further, Gates said the US should cut back on some of the more expensive Pentagon programs, like removing armored vehicles from the $160 billion Future Combat Systems modernization program.

Also recommended in the proposal was stopping the growth of Army Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) at 45 versus 48 while maintaining the planned increase in end strength of 547,000, which Gates said would ensure that the US has better-manned units ready to deploy, and help put an end to the routine use of stop loss.

The Missile Defense Agency program, under the Gates plan, would be reduced by $1.4 billion by cancelling the second airborne laser prototype aircraft, terminating the Multiple Kill Vehicle program and not increasing the number of current ground-based interceptors in Alaska as had been planned.

Another program cut under the Gates plan would be the VH-71 presidential helicopter, a program originally designed to provide 23 helicopters to support the president at a cost of $6.5 billion.

Gates said that, today, the program is estimated to cost over $13 billion, has fallen six years behind schedule, and runs the risk of not delivering the requested capability.

He further suggested cutting the Air Force Combat Search and Rescue helicopter program, which Gates said has a troubled acquisition history and raises the fundamental question of whether this important mission can only be accomplished by another single-service solution with single-purpose aircraft.

Finally, Gates suggested terminating the $26 billion Transformational Satellite (TSAT) program, and instead purchasing two more Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites as alternatives.

It is important to remember, Gates said, that every defense dollar spent to over-ensure against a remote or diminishing risk - or in effect to run up the score in a capability where the United States is already dominant - is a dollar not available to take care of our people, reset the force, win the wars we are in and improve capabilities in areas where we are underinvested and potentially vulnerable.

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